Disrupt Africa has released the first ever publication focused on gender equality in the African tech startup landscape, in partnership with Africa-focused pre-seed investment programmes Madica, with the results demonstrating the lack of gender diversity both within startup teams and funding rounds on the continent.
Since launching its research arm in 2016, Disrupt Africa has built up a significant portfolio of publications, most notably the African Tech Startups Funding Report, Finnovating for Africa, and deep-dives into various leading startup ecosystems, available free for all via open-sourcing initiatives with various partners across the continent’s tech ecosystem.
Its latest publication, its 21st in total, is the company’s most ambitious ecosystem research project to date – focusing on gender equality in the African tech startup landscape, “Diversity Dividend: Exploring Gender Equality in the African Tech Ecosystem”.
Key findings include the fact that of almost 2,500 African tech startups studied for the purpose of the report, only 14.6 per cent had a female co-founder and just 9.6 per cent were led by a female CEO. The report also includes survey data where female founders have spoken directly about their experiences within the ecosystem, as well as personalised case studies.
From a funding perspective, the report analysed 711 African tech startups that secured funding in 2022 and so far in 2023. Of those, just 21 per cent had at least one female co-founder, while only 11.7 per cent had a female CEO. Of the just over US$4 billion raised by ventures in the period in question, meanwhile, only 9.1 per cent went to companies co-founded by a woman, and just 2.9 per cent to startups with a female CEO or equivalent.
The report, which also includes data around female representation within the Africa-focused venture capital industry, is released in partnership with Madica, an Africa-focused pre-seed investment programme empowering underrepresented and underfunded mission-driven founders on the continent. The sector-agnostic platform, affiliated with Flourish Ventures, aims to empower entrepreneurs with the provision of funding and also democratising access to world-class company-building support.
“Madica is delighted to be partnering with Disrupt Africa on this progressive study that conducts a deep dive into the state of gender diversity and inequality in African tech. We firmly believe that achieving gender parity in the tech industry is not only necessary but possible. While acknowledging the root causes of the current gender gap, we are fully committed to proactively addressing these issues,” said Emmanuel Adegboye, head of Madica.
“As a company, we are setting a positive example by actively seeking out and partnering with women entrepreneurs and leaders. We recognise and highly value the massive contributions they bring to the table and are enthusiastic about the significant positive impact they will undoubtedly have on our portfolio companies and the industry as a whole. By fostering an inclusive culture and providing opportunities for women to lead and succeed, we are not only supporting gender parity but also driving innovation and progress in the tech ecosystem.”
Other collaborators include FirstCheck Africa, which invests early in high-growth technology startups founded or co-founded by women; TLcom Capital, which has US$350 million of VC assets under management across Africa and Europe; LoftyInc Capital Management, a venture capital firm on a mission to build an ecosystem of Africans investing in Africans solving African problems; Google for Startups, which is on a mission to support thriving, diverse, and inclusive startup communities around the world; and RevUp Women by AfriLabs, which empowers early-stage women-led African startups and SMEs to overcome unique challenges that hinder their growth and success.
iceaddis, Ethiopia’s first innovation hub and tech startup incubator; the International Trade Centre’s Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V), a four-year partnership signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the digital technologies sector; and Janngo Capital, which builds, grows and invests in pan-African digital champions with proven business models and inclusive social impact, are also partners.
“FirstCheck Africa is proud to partner with Disrupt Africa for this inaugural report which includes an extensive review of the continent’s female-led startup ecosystem based on their comprehensive, multi-year primary data. A maturing ecosystem that’s serious about equity and unlocking every investment opportunity needs numbers and analysis beyond the superficial to hold itself accountable. Inspired by this report, we’re looking forward to a meaningful conversation about the experiences of women around Africa’s venture capital table, including the continent’s ambitious founders and active investors,” said Eloho Omame, co-founder of FirstCheck Africa.
“With a 60 per cent female senior team and through our annual Female Founder Summit, we’ve not only experienced first-hand the huge benefits of a diverse organisation but are also well-aware of the major economic upside ready to be unlocked by levelling the playing field for women across the ecosystem. As an industry, we cannot afford to continue overlooking the biases and stereotypes preventing women from reaching their full potential. With this in mind, we’re especially proud to support Disrupt Africa’s latest work to shine a much-needed spotlight on these issues and pioneer crucial change for current and future women within African tech,” said Andreata Muforo, partner at TLcom Capital.
“This report does not prove that women work hard or that kind people are handing out free money. It does track women who have risen from informal jobs into formal leadership roles without sacrificing the high-quality expectations of their customers and investors,” said Marsha Wulff, founding partner of LoftyInc Capital Management.
“We are pleased to support Disrupt Africa in carrying out this research on gender equality within the African tech ecosystem. The study highlights pressing issues faced by women in technology, such as underrepresentation, the gender funding gap, and work-life balance concerns,” said Folarin Aiyegbusi, head of startup ecosystem (Africa) at Google. “The insights provide valuable guidance for promoting a more inclusive and equitable environment for all tech industry participants. We hope this research inspires meaningful action to foster a diverse and balanced tech ecosystem in Africa.”
“We are thrilled about our partnership with Disrupt Africa to produce a report on the funding landscape for women entrepreneurs in Africa,” said Anna Ekeledo, executive director of AfriLabs, the pan-African network of technology and innovation hubs. “At AfriLabs, we recognise the unique challenges faced by women-led businesses on the continent, including the gender funding gap in investment. This is a priority for us, and it aligns with the objective of our enterprise development program, RevUp Women, to create sustainable support for women entrepreneurs across the continent. The report will provide valuable insights for stakeholders to tailor their interventions and support women-led businesses more effectively.”
About Disrupt Africa
Disrupt Africa is the one-stop-shop for all news, information and commentary pertaining to the continent’s tech startup – and investment – ecosystem. With journalists roaming the continent to find, meet, and interview the most innovative and disruptive tech startups, Disrupt Africa is a true showcase of Africa’s most promising businesses and business ideas. Its research arm releases in-depth reports on various aspects of the African tech startup ecosystem. Details here.
Launched in 2022, Madica is an Africa-focused pre-seed investment programme empowering underrepresented and underfunded mission-driven founders on the continent. The sector-agnostic platform, affiliated with Flourish Ventures, aims to empower entrepreneurs with the provision of funding and also democratising access to world-class company-building support.
About FirstCheck Africa
FirstCheck Africa invests early in high-growth technology startups founded or co-founded by women. Our portfolio includes Jumba, Uncover, Tushop (Kenya), Pivo, Healthtracka (Nigeria), Foondamate, Zoie Health, Akiba Digital (South Africa) and MoneyHash (Egypt). Our mission is to advance equity, capital and leadership for a generation of women in Africa through technology and entrepreneurship. Visit our website at www.firstcheck.africa for more information.
About TLcom Capital
Founded in 1999 and with offices in Lagos, Nairobi and London, TLcom Capital has $350mn of VC assets under management across Africa and Europe and in January 2022 announced the first close of its $150mn TIDE Africa Fund II, dedicated to technology and innovation for Sub-Saharan Africa at all stages of venture capital. The TLcom portfolio includes Twiga Foods, Andela, uLesson, and Kobo360 among others, and it has completed successful Africa VC exits with Upstream acquired by Actis and Movirtu acquired by BlackBerry. TLcom’s fund delivers capital as part of its wider strategic, operational and financial support strategy to entrepreneurs.
About LoftyInc Capital Management
Over the last decade, LoftyInc Capital Management has invested over US$25 million into over 150 of Africa’s fastest growing enterprises, including three unicorns, and attracted c.US$1.5 billion in follow-on funding into our portfolio companies. With an overall goal to prioritize long-term growth and sustained benefits to communities, we have also built an extensive ecosystem in the process, spanning tech hubs, angel networks, and talent platforms. Across all funds, we have realised 14 exits and achieved 3.8x net DPI on our LoftyInc Afropreneurs Fund 2.
About Google for Startups
Startups are solving the world’s most important challenges with agility, innovative technology, and determination. Google is proud to help. So whether they’re starting out, building their startup business, or scaling up to meet the needs of consumers, businesses, and society, we connect them with the right people, products, and best practices to help them thrive and grow.Because if startups succeed, our communities and economies succeed. And Google does too. More here.
About RevUp Women by AfriLabs
RevUp Women by AfriLabs empowers early-stage women-led African startups and SMEs to overcome unique challenges that hinder their growth and success. Deploying women-targeted programmes such as peer learning and female coaches, the initiative aligns with AfriLabs’ inclusion strategy and is funded by The Visa Foundation. The pilot aims to provide capacity-building training and mentoring to 500 women business owners in 5 African countries, fund 10 women-owned businesses with US$10,000 each, and build 54 mentoring networks across the continent. By 2026, RevUp Women will have supported over 50,000 women-led enterprises, unlocked US$100 million worth of investment, and created 152,000 jobs.
Ethiopia’s first innovation hub and tech startup incubator, established in 2011, iceaddis is a co-creation space that accelerates high-potential startups, facilitates technological innovations, and works with a multi-partnership approach to activate youth to gain economic empowerment.
About the International Trade Centre’s Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V) project
The International Trade Centre’s Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V) is a four-year partnership (July 2021- June 2025) signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the digital technologies sector. The programme is executed in Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Uganda, and focuses on business-friendly tech ecosystems and tech hubs, offering tech start-ups and MSMEs resilient business models, linking them to national and international business and investment opportunities, and digitalising traditional MSMEs.
About Janngo Capital
Janngo builds, grows and invests in pan-African digital champions with proven business models and inclusive social impact. We believe that technology & capital can leapfrog development and achieve SDGs in Africa. Janngo Capital invests between EUR50,000 and EUR5 million in tech and tech-enabled startups across Africa, solving key market failures and creating green jobs with a focus on women and youth. We operate under a full Alternative Investment Fund Management license with main offices in Abidjan and Paris. Our portfolio companies are 56 per cent female-led, 54 per cent francophone, and include “soonicorn” Sabi and fintech champion Expensya. We invest in all sectors in particular in healthcare, logistics, financial services, retail, food & agribusiness, mobility and creative industries. To find out more: www.janngo.africa.